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Passive-aggressive signs are normally the domain of the lunchroom, deployed by timid yet hate-filled people to remind "whoever is eating my sandwich" to "could you not?" These signs are anger expressed in its most constipated form and, for that reason, easily dismissed.

What's more difficult to fathom is when actual businesses use passive-aggressive signs to remind their customers how much they hate them and wish they would go away. Also, for some reason, these notes are incredibly specific, implying some bizarre circumstance keeps happening there enough to warrant a sign mocking their own customers. How is that possible? To find out, please take my hand, friend, as I dive into the passive-aggressive business world, to find out what specifically has caused these people to completely lose their rag.

Unattended Children Will Be Mildly Poisoned

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Hey, this fun local coffee shop looks like a great place to start our search and also leave my child unattended. Let's do that now ... oh, hang on.


Maybe that's a bad idea after all.

There are a lot of versions of this sign out there; you can find a dozen or so examples on Etsy. This implies that many coffee shop owners around the world are apparently just itching to poison young children. And I get that; I've got a young child.

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Though if you're reading this, know that I love you, little Blaydon.

The espresso is, I guess, intended to be a punishment for the parents of the young children, forcing them to deal with a caffeinated kid. And OK, sure, nice one, coffee shop proprietor. But, why involve a kitten? Aside from the fact that giving a cat to a family that doesn't want it is pretty cruel to the cat, offering pets to children is classic man-in-a-windowless-van behavior. That shit will get you arrested and is no way to run a business.

What Probably Happened Here:

So, we've got a coffee shop owner, who is apparently exhausted with dealing with gangs of unattended children, has a steady supply of cats, and is unconcerned with being thought a pedophile. This means they're either a child themselves or a genderless robot that has started a coffee shop near a daycare as a way of humanely dealing with the product of their failed kitten mill.

There is no other rational answer.

Warning: Gas Leak

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Man, you know what would go great after that failed attempt to abandon my child? Ice cream. And I know just the place. We'll just head in here to the back and ...


Well, now I don't feel like anything.

Let's ignore the typo/broken English here; life's a tough journey, and we're all trying our best. Instead, let's focus on the meat of this issue.

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The big, beefy meat of this issue.

Farts. Now, a common feature of passive-aggressive notes is that they're addressed quite vaguely ("to the person who ... "), even though the writer often has a pretty clear idea who specifically is the culprit. That doesn't seem to be the case here, suggesting this isn't a store that has a single, powerful, and bloated enemy. Something else is going on entirely.

What Probably Happened Here:

Farts are, of course, a criminal offense, but they're such a minor one (victims usually survive) that authorities rarely dedicate many resources to prosecuting them. But, that reasoning falls apart when one person is victimized repeatedly by many individual offenders. Although each criminal is individually not worth pursuing, the accumulated damage can be quite significant.

That's what I think is happening here. A gang of, let's say, unattended children again, are repeatedly entering this store and farting by the ice cream, doing untold damage to employee health, paint color, and, of course, the fabric of society.

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No Boob Money, Please

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Well, that convenience store reeked. Maybe this next one will be more hygienic ...


Well, at least they're trying.

So, I'm a dude -- flex -- and there are some things about the fair gender that I can't claim to know too much about. Like, I guess, you sometimes keep things in your bras? Money, it sounds like, but I would guess other small, flat things could work. Luncheon meats, maybe.

Sounds right.

And, I guess, like many things, the boob can get sweaty and cause anything stored nearby to get soggy -- seems like it could be a problem. I can imagine I wouldn't want to deal with any soggy bills, and this store seems to feel the same way.

What Probably Happened Here:

The reasonable answer is that this convenience store is on a route frequented by joggers, who stop by for ... cigarettes, it looks like. And because they're wearing jogging clothes with no pockets, they're pulling money out of their socks or bras. This actually sounds like a best-case scenario when considering the set of locations money could be extracted from.

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We could have this problem again.

Another Question!?

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Hey, what's next door? Wow, this used music store looks really well stocked. Say, I wonder if this guy would be willing to answer three questions about music for me ...


... oh no, apparently, I can go fuck myself. Neat.

One can imagine what the situation is here. Someone with some probably not-great facial hair has rocked up to the clerk at a used CD store, with a list of insanely rare albums he's trying to find. And as much as the clerk wants to help out, there's all the other customers that require attention as well. And this isn't the first time hairbeard has struck, hence the sign.

Yeah, that totally makes sense.

What Probably Happened Here:

Unless it's something insane, instead. Maybe this store is in a neighborhood frequented by sphinxes who, being full of love for rare LPs, riddles, and treachery, regularly tie up the store's staff with their fiendish questions and also sometimes devour them when they fail to answer correctly.

Yeah, I'd put up a sign too, I guess.

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Unlikely Library Concern

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Man, you know what's always refreshing? A bus ride. Let's just head down to the local bus shelter and see what's happening in the world of public transit today.

The Independent

Wow. Huge burn on local government from out of nowhere. Nice one, massive and successful business.

We actually know exactly what's happened here. In San Francisco, Airbnb was forced to pay hotel taxes even though they really didn't want to. Several adults within the company then spent actual, real money, with which they could have done literally anything else, to weep childishly in public in the form of several bus shelter ads.

To be fair, the question of whether Airbnb rentals should be considered as hotel rooms is far from a clear one and, from Airbnb's perspective, potentially a business-threatening one. They have a right to be concerned about this -- but not to piss their pants in public.

What Probably Happened Here:

So, although we know what happened here, we don't know who hurt you, Airbnb? Did you and a business partner tearfully break up that day, and you couldn't even deal right then? Did Mombnb and Dadbnb leave you unattended somewhere? Is someone constantly farting near you?

This Is Not Burger King

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Well, after that debacle at the bus shelter, I'm hungry. A burger would be nice right now. But, it would be great if I could get one without tomato, the famous garbage vegetable. I'll just ask the ...


... or maybe I won't.

There is some rationale behind this hostility. Obviously, some customers are more of a hassle to deal with than others, and some could potentially be more trouble than they're worth. Changing your recipes, or inventory management, or other business practices to satisfy one particular customer trying to buy a $3 burger very well might not be worth it.

Still, that's maybe a little too hostile for customer-facing signage. Also, disrespectful to the burger/son of a bitch.

What Probably Happened Here:

But, maybe I don't know what's happening here. I'm just assuming it's still a restaurant. Maybe this sign is hung in a place that was once a Burger King, but is now something else. Like an H&R Block or something. And some harried accountant is just so sick of answering questions about refund options and chicken fries that they felt the need for the sign.

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The Password Is GoBlowYourself

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Well, that openly hostile burger situation sure left me stressed out. I could use a place to unwind and check the hot content that's online. Hey, here looks nice ...

Trip Advisor

... ugh.

It's easy to see why coffee shops have mixed feelings about Wi-Fi. On one hand, it gives people another reason to visit their shop and linger there -- I've done some of my best work in these places -- all the while exposed to the delicious smells of things for sale. On the other hand, Wi-Fi users take up space, often for great periods of time, while contributing minimal revenue. I can certainly see why a coffee shop would decide against it. A sign like this makes a lot of sense.

Except for the "Go Talk To Each Other." That part is so dickish, it has bulging veins.

I don't talk to people in coffee shops, and the main reason for that is because I don't know them. Sure, maybe if I kept going to the same place every day, I might do that. But, this is the real world, not the set of a sitcom.

What Probably Happened Here:

These people imagined their coffee shop would be the set of a sitcom: Implausibly attractive people having witty conversations on the big couch in the middle of the room and, oh my goodness, the comic misunderstandings they have! How disappointing the real world must be to the owners of this place.

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Real coffee drinkers are basically goblins by comparison.

You're Not Welcome Here, Clown

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You know, fuck it. I'm going to get a real drink. Come on, Blaydon. This amphitheater looks like just the place, and ...


... well that's just fucking discrimination.

OK, technically this isn't passive-aggressive; it's a little too matter-of-fact for that. But, this is still one hell of a sign, if only because of the implication that this has happened enough times that they need a sign.

What Probably Happened Here:

The rational answer is that this is a beer garden at a concert or carnival or something, somewhere people can get their faces painted. And this sign, and the provincial laws that apparently backstop it, are designed to thwart clever teenagers from getting their faces painted to make their fake IDs more plausible.

Or, it could just be an Insane Clown Posse concert.

But, fuck the rational answer. No, this venue, and apparently the entire province, is dealing with the residents of an out-of-control Animal-House-esque mime school and has passed legislation to finally crack down on their shenanigans.

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"Yeah, you should better run, mime!"
"No, Jim, it's a trick, watch out!"

Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and will leave his child unattended wherever he feels like. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes And Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.

To see more businesses that hate your guts, check out The 4 Most Weirdly Passive-Aggressive Holiday Displays and learn how to up your passive aggressive game with 6 Types of Apologies That Aren't Apologies at All.

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